Bills tight end Scott Chandler is set to be a free agent and Buffalo needs to let him go.
Chandler has been a solid, if underwhelming, tight end over the last few years. The Bills found the perfect intersection between value and performance with Chandler, as he came over from Dallas during the 2010 season and started for three seasons at tight end.
In 2011 and 2012, the former Cowboy was decent. Pro Football Focus (subscription required) graded him as a -3.0 in 2011, but Chandler managed to find more success the next year as he earned a +4.8 rating.
The tight end’s performance dipped back down in 2013, though, as he graded out a -3.6 on the season.
With a new general manager, coaching regime and quarterback in place for the Bills, there are no real ties to Chandler left in Buffalo. It’d be more beneficial for general manager Doug Whaley to bring in a young tight end to grow with sophomore quarterback EJ Manuel, like the Colts have done for Andrew Luck with Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen.
This year’s draft features two tight ends who can produce as soon as they arrive in Buffalo. One is North Carolina’s Eric Ebron and the other is Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro. Depending on whether or not the Bills see Amaro as a potential replacement for Chandler, a trade down is a very real possibility in the first round.
The Bills don’t even have to address the tight end position in the draft, as they have a number of capable in-house options. Lee Smith played less than half the snaps that Chandler played in 2013, but still managed to earn a +4.5 rating from Pro Football Focus. Just 26 years old, Smith is a more than able blocker who will push for playing time on first and second down.
Also, the Bills will look for Chris Gragg to turn heads during training camp. The former Arkansas standout was one of the most athletic tight ends in the 2013 NFL draft and can make a huge impact in the passing game if given the opportunity.
Chandler’s been good enough to demand the market value for a serviceable tight end, which he won’t be worth to the Bills. If Buffalo brings him back, they’ll be sinking dollars into a poor investment.
Jairus Byrd wants a new extension and he’s worth it (he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 8th best safety in the NFL in 2013, despite missing significant time). The Bills can’t afford to waste a portion of their cap space on Chandler; the team needs the money for its star safety.
With many other options available at tight end (and a chance to make the position a strength through the draft), the Bills need to let go of Chandler.
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